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Dec 11, 7:03 AM EST

China's auto sales growth was flat in November compared with a year earlier as strong SUV demand helped to offset a decline in sedan sales



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BEIJING (AP) -- China's auto sales were flat in November compared with a year earlier, leaving total purchases in the world's biggest market up an anemic 1.9 percent for the first 11 months of 2017, an industry group reported Monday.

Chinese drivers bought 2.6 million sedans, SUVs and minivans, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. Total vehicle sales, including trucks and buses, edged up 0.7 percent to just under 3 million vehicles.

Chinese auto sales have struggled this year after a temporary tax cut boosted 2016's growth to 15 percent. Sales contracted in April and May before growing feebly in recent months.

That weakness is a setback for global automakers that look to China to drive future revenue, though some have grown faster than the market, taking share from Chinese and other rivals.

In November, SUV sales rose 8.9 percent over a year earlier to 11 million, while sedan purchases shrank 4.8 percent to 12.2 million. For the first 11 months of the year, sales totaled 22.1 million.

Chinese demand has weakened as economic growth slowed and Beijing and other major cities tightened restrictions on ownership to curb smog and congestion.

Sales by Chinese domestic brands overall rose 5 percent to 1.2 million vehicles, according to CAAM. Their share of the market expanded by 1.6 percentage points to 45.8 percent.

- General Motors Co., which competes with Volkswagen AG for the status of China's most popular automaker, said sales by the company and its Chinese manufacturing partners rose 13 percent from a year earlier to 418,225 vehicles.

- Ford Motor Co. sales fell 8 percent to 117,593 vehicles. Year-to-date sales were off 6 percent at just under 1.1 million.

- Nissan Motor Co., the most popular Japanese brand in China, said monthly sales rose 21.8 percent to 165,384 vehicles. Sales through November were up 12 percent at 1.3 million.

- Toyota Motor Co. sales gained 9.9 percent to 109,600. Year-to-date sales grew 10.7 percent to 1.2 million.

- BMW AG said November sales rose 12 percent to 55,293 vehicles. Year-to-date sales were up 14.7 percent to 542,362.

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China Association of Automobile Manufacturers: www.caam.org.cn

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